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Lessons learned from a nightmare
Gloucester street scene
Gloucester is no longer linked in people's minds with the events of Cromwell Street
Last updated: 24 February 2004 1815 GMT
lineThe Cromwell Street murders sent shockwaves through Gloucester and round the world.
But 10 years on, the tragedy has brought improved services for vulnerable young people.
Also See

Murder street looks to future

Surviving Fred and Rose

BBC Crime: Fred and Rose West

 
 
Internet Links

Astra Project

Gloucestershire Police

The Citizen: Cromwell Street archive

 
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Contact

ASTRA is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Contact details are:
Emergency freephone
number for young people
0800 389 4992

Parents, carers or non-emergency calls
01452 541599

Email: info@astraproject.
org.uk

Out of working hours young people can call the National Runaways Helpline free on 0808 800 7070 or Gloucestershire Police on on 08450 901234, who will be able to access help from Social Services if required.

 

 
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On February 24th 1994, police officers digging in the back garden of 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester made the first of what would be a series of grisly discoveries.

They found the remains of Heather West, the daughter of Fred and Rose West, who had not been seen since 1987.

Gloucestershire Police eventually found a total of 12 young women's bodies - at Cromwell Street, at nearby Midland Road and in a field at Much Marcle in North Gloucestershire.

Fred West hanged himself at Winson Green jail on New Year's Day, 1995, before he could stand trial.

Young runaway
Services for troubled young people have improved

Rose West was convicted of 10 murders and is now serving a life sentence.

Not surprisingly the West case is a period that Gloucester would prefer to forget.

Like Dunblane, Hungerford and Lockerbie, the events was so shocking there were fears that the city would be inextricably linked in people's minds with that dark time.

No one dreamed good could come out of such horror - but lessons have been learned and applied from the tragedy.

Missing persons helplines reported a huge increase in the number of inquiries after the case.

And efforts have been made to make sure vulnerable young people, the kind the Wests preyed upon, were tracked and monitored better.

Communications between different agencies were also improved in a bid to ensure missing people don't slip through the net as the West victims did.

Runaways

In short, procedures have been tightened so that fewer young people who have left home for whatever reason 'disappear' - in the hope that tragedy on the scale of the Cromwell Street case could never occur unnoticed again.

One such legacy of hope has been the ASTRA project, set up in 1997.

ASTRA - the name is short for Alternative Solutions To Running Away - provides support, advice and information to young people in Gloucestershire up to 18 years old who have run away - whether from a family home, foster home or from a residential unit.

Astra logo
ASTRA was set up in 1997 to help potential runaways

Confidentiality is key. "We won't tell anyone unless you say it is OK - unless you are in great danger," young people are told.

ASTRA also provides a family support service for parents or carers of young runaways or potential runaways.

Gloucester itself, has moved on, too. A survey carried out by BBC Radio Gloucestershire in Birmingham, Ipswich and Oxford found people no longer connected the city with the Cromwell Street episode.

Asked what they associated with Gloucester, people said Dr Foster, the Docks, the Cathedral, rugby - not one said Cromwell Street or the Wests.

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